June 13, 2004, Portland
I arrive in Portland at 11:20am local time. From the airport I take a cab to the shipyard, leave the luggage at the door, and have my first meal onboard. It is not bad at all.
It is Semester at Sea's first voyage with the ship: the Olympic Explorer. It is a two years old former cruise ship, purchased from the bankrupt Royal Olympic Cruises.
I happily find that I get to have my own room, a small cabin with two single beds. The cabin has a compact yet efficent design which includes almosteverything I need: a bathroom with shower, plenty of storage space, a tv, atiny frig., a small coffee table, and a computer desk (with a mirror). I wonder if it would be safe to use a coffee maker in the room.
Reception is at 4pm. I use the inbetween time to unpack and organize my stuff, and also tour the ship.There's not much to see though, since worker are still finishing up. They are transforming a cruise ship into a floating campus
. How amazing!
(The faculty and staff lounge. Not surprising that some students would soon feel uncomfortable that faculty and staff have access to alcohol provided in thelounge bar, and appeal to the dean for a right to access!)
I have to admit that this place is the most beautiful room(or closed space?) on the ship.
The Union is where bigger events take place. Global studies classes are held here, which everybody (students, staff, faculty, adult passengers, families..) is required to attend. I will soon learn that it is a routine that on the night before the ship arrives in each port of call, a cultural preport and a logistic preport will be held in the Union. Other events include special lectures, karaoke, etc.
Now it's time for the reception. Nicole and Sue spoke enthusiastically about the voyage as a learning community. This is the first time that a Semester at Sea voyage is headed by two women deans. Everyone is introdoced, including all the accompanying family members. The reception sets a nice and casual tone for the journey, which I now cannot wait to start. Wine afterwards. Get to know some of the profs, staff, and senior pessengers.
Dinner starts at 1815. Now that we are onboard, we have to use nautical language. So instead of saying dinner starts at six fifteen, now we have to say eighteen fifteen. Small details like this always entertain me. I manage to sqeeze a few minutes to record the first day onboard before I go to the dinner hall. I know this will be a busy day: after dinner there is the faculty meeting, and likely social time afterwards. If I don't use the little inbetween time to record something there will never be time, and all the details will just soon slip away from my busy mind.